How we Successfully Implemented GTD across our Company thereby Increasing Productivity & Making Work Fun.

Editor’s Note:  This is the first in what I expect will be a series of posts from  Arif and Ali of Vakil Housing – which to our knowledge is the first company in India to implement GTD across their entire workforce.

Story by Arif Vakil

vhdc-loves-gtd_300-px.jpgHow I first came across GTD

It was more than two years ago that I learned about GTD.  I was taking care of the HR department of Vakil Housing (our Company) then.  I was buried with applications that were flowing in for the various positions open in our growing company.  The applications were coming in through mail, through post, some were personally delivered.  To organize myself I started making stacks of these applications all around me for the different positions we had to offer and eventually ran out of space on my desk.  I badly needed a system to file all these applications in such a way so that I could retrieve an application within 30 seconds the moment I needed it.  There began my internet searching for a good filing system.  Little did I know that the system I would come across would become one of the most significant changes in my life and at our company, Vakil Housing.

I really could go on and on how every so much GTD has benefited us.  Each time I go through my actions when I’m in a particular context and “knock a few suckers” out from my list or when I come up with a truly Brilliant, Wild Success solution by using the Natural Planning Model, I always tell myself that it’s not because of me, but it’s thanks to G-O-D that I learned G-T-D which have led to such wonderful results.

How far we’ve reached in GTD implementation as a Company

As all GTD implementers would earnestly agree, GTD certainly sky-rockets ones productivity levels.  Because of GTD, I have been:

  • – Arriving at Next Actions instantly, therefore moving forward
  • – Taking much faster decisions
  • – Visioning wild success
  • – Delegating
  • – Tracking each and every decision that I have given to execution.

All of the above led to two realizations.  Firstly, we have truly a brilliant team within our organization.  The staff at Vakil Housing were able to take-on much more tasks than I was handing out to them prior to GTD.  Secondly, nonetheless since I had become so much more super-productive, I needed others to keep up with me.  When a task was handed out to someone, I needed the peace of mind that the task would be handled.  But when I don’t see people writing down tasks assigned to them, a siren plays in my head screaming, “Red Alert, Red Alert, Warning, Warning”.  That’s what triggered almost a year long company wide training and implementation of GTD the pinnacle of which was an “Official David Allen Trainer coming down to our company here in India” .

For almost the last year or so we’ve been consistently having some sort of weekly GTD Training session in-house.  Our staff don’t have too much of a background of working in a “corporate” environment, where all have voice mail, in boxes or pigeonholes.  In fact some have felt & used a computer or responded to an email only after joining our company.  So we started from there and over the last many months, we have now reached a place where almost all the Department Heads and Senior Managers of our 120 staff company:

  • – Clear the email in box to “zero” every 2nd or 3rd day.
  • – Carry a paper based GTD Notebook with them everywhere
  • – Have their personal “only-swivel-distance-away” Reference Filing system.
  • – Have a clear understanding of Projects and Next Actions,
  • – The always have a current list of Projects with them handy.
  • – Use the Natural Planning Model to do Project Planning (I’ve only trained them on this last week so that will take a while).

As Kevin Wilde (Chief Learning Officer, General Mills) experienced it with his staff, some are deep-divers and some surface-skimmers.  But all have implemented it to some degree and we now can comfortably speak the same language.

When I look back, it seems quite incredible that we’ve reached so far, but we have.  However, we still have some way to go, till this manner of thinking becomes a solid irreplaceable culture within our organization.

What are the specific steps we took to implement GTD at Vakil Housing:
There are various initiatives that we had taken, which I shall try to expand on over a series of blog posts, most of which were:

  • – Conducting Weekly GTD Training Meetings for Department Heads
  • – Finding a working paper based GTD system and handing that out to everybody
  • – Conducting one-to-one GTD Training at the desks of various individuals
  • – Pairing people up as GTD Buddies to help each other do their daily process
  • – Making a personalized pocket notepad, to encourage all to capture commitments
  • – Putting up various GTD posters up in our conference room
  • – Personalized Jott system within the office to encourage capturing when one is not able to write.
  • – Finally being trained and creating trainers within the organization to make this an on-going process.

So stay tuned on this series of Blog post on GTDTimes, by tracking the Vakil Housing tag.  In future posts I shall describe the above steps in detail, as to how we successfully implemented GTD across our company.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thank you for your comment, Ishani. Do try and implement GTD across your company. It takes a bit of effort but the rewards are really well worth it. There are no more mysteriously disappearing files, people accept tasks with much more responsibility and the greatest benefit has been that we’ve experienced a lovely overall general boost in morale.

  2. Your actions are correct, as far as they don’t go further into pople’s minds, where they don’t want them. I think that poster are good, but some people just can’t gt adjust to the GTD method right away. I think trainings are the best part here. During these trainings you need to show people that there are different ways to GTD. One is more comfartable with a paper notebook, another is better off with online GTD system, like Wrike. Let people choose their way. Then, you’ll get the best results.

  3. Hi Jill,

    I see what you mean. What may be different about my case is that I’ve been working with my people closely for many many years now. I can sense what would work for them and what wouldn’t. And an online system wouldn’t cut the cake because most of them are from a background of marketing or engineering. In both cases they are required to be out of the office a lot.

    If I left it just at training, I can see most of them going say, “ho-hum, that’s nice Arif, but this would not work for us.”

    My goal was to somehow get everybody just taste the system, cash in on the value that has to offer, breathe in the luxury of a mind like water. To do that they have to crank widgets for themselves. And to crank widgets I had to give them a system. So I went ahead and made a customised paper based GTD system which we distributed to everybody.

    God Bless, it worked for us.

    I’ll detail out this paper-based system in the next blog post.

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